(Images via Rightmove)
What is it? Well it's a one-bedroom flat, I suppose;
Where is it? Hackney, which in my opinion is one of the last true and pure places left in this hellhole of a city, because it is a rare symphony of genuine old shit holes mixed with nu-gentrification, somehow at once both pulsing chicken shops and Instagram-friendly cafes, all wrapped up with a Big Tesco and an ominously-vibed Wetherspoons, and until the bulbous tumour of the new takes over the blood and fibres of the old, it's still a very enjoyable place to be;
What is there to do locally? Last time I was in Hackney there was blue police tape over the front of a pub alleyway and two (two.) ambulances parked in the middle of the main road, so I suppose one option as to what to do locally is "be a victim of violent crime". You can also go to that vegan fried chicken place and go to the bar opposite where the drinks menu! Is very amusing! And is written by an anonymous! But very talented! And good-looking! Writer!
Alright, how much are they asking? £1,535, per month. One— ha, ha ha ha, ha, sorry, sorry — one thousand, five hun— he he he he he, he he he he —five hundred and thirty-five pounds, per month. Per month. One thousand five hundred and thirty-five pounds per month.
Hey: describe a flat. Describe a flat to me. Come on. Make a list. A list of things a flat needs. We'll do it together. Things a flat needs:
– A bathroom? This feels like an obvious one, but I've seen enough London Rental Opportunities now to know landlords and property agents et al need the very specific component parts of a bathroom explaining out to them otherwise they will put a toilet in a small hut in your kitchen and call the job a good one, so: a bathroom, with a sink and a toilet and a bath or at least a large shower, and also not just a wet room with a toilet in it, either; that doesn't count. So: a bathroom.
– A kitchen, and again we have to go through this rigmarole: a kitchen needs to have dedicated work surfaces for chopping and preparing, it needs some sort of heating or cooking implement that isn't just "a microwave with a hob wedged on top", it needs a separate sink and it needs cupboards. Kitchens are quite important in flats because humans do this curious thing where they eat, every single day, minimum of one time and maximum no limit, averaging out around three times, per day, the eating;
– Windows? I know, I know: windows seem like such an obvious thing, in a flat, that it's almost not worth saying, is it. But then sometimes you get flats without windows. So I'm going to go ahead and say: windows;
– A secure door won't hurt;
– A separate room which can be used as a bedroom and also has sufficient space for both a double bed and room to actually move around that double bed, i.e. the bed can't be crammed into the room in such a way that you have to bounce off the fucker to get out;
So we have specified our very bare minimum requirements for a flat. Now we can get into our diva-like demands to extravagances, like:
– Relatively quiet;
– Room for a leisure space with a sofa and TV;
– Nice drinking water? I don't know;
– The flat is not so damp that the air grows thick in winter and your lungs fur with black mould, and also you can actually dry your clothes in it, the flat, without having to put them for three days on a radiator;
– Stuff like that. Basic things. It's not a lot we are asking for, us, The Army of the Renters, but you would be surprised how often these low demands are not just not met, but actively spat and pissed on;
– Uh, I dunno, walls?
To Hackney now, and this, a wall-less doom garage that costs you a grand-and-a-half a month to live in:
There are two occasions when you see buildings like this: one, on Grand Designs, where, mid-way through a build, a couple run entirely out of money and decide that, actually, they don't need interior finishings, do they, as long as they have their marquee windows with the view, and we can always fit them in afterwards, they say, so they tour Kevin through their breeze block and exposed concrete hell cave and bravely say, "Actually we're… we're growing to like it" and "It may not be to everybody's tastes, but it's… it's us, you know?" They have tried to jazz the space up with a single rug in the front room and it has not worked. That sort of thing.
The second instance is my student house in my third year of university, where when we viewed it before summer the landlord cheerfully told us the garage would be converted into a living room before we returned in September, and so that obviously turned out to be a lie, and so when we moved in we found him – in spattered joggers, among exposed joints – furiously sawing a piece of plasterboard alone in a freezing non-room, and the whole build took months, months and months and months, and the one time we asked him when it might be finished he got as much in my face as it is possible for a 5' 8" man to get in my face, and said "IF YOU WANT TO FUCK OFF, THEN FUCK OFF!" But, at that point, despite wanting to fuck off I was legally locked into a rental agreement for five more months and so chose: not to fuck off. And when the room was finally completed about eight weeks before we moved out it looked basically like this, i.e. shit. So that's the only other time you see this: breeze blocks, and wood, and barely polished concrete floors, and light that bounces around the room like a prison; it looks like a show kitchen installed into the middle of a big branch of Wickes.
This is a new build, though, and so shouldn't be like this. It should be, like, built. "Features include an exposed pitched roof and polished concrete floors," the property blurb says. "A complete and notable lack of something vital" is not a feature, in my opinion, but good try on the spin. "Ideal for a single professional or couple looking for a unique property moments from Hackney Walk and Well Street." Ideal for a professional couple, it says, who are ideally exceptionally horny for breeze blocks. Ideal for a professional couple, who can afford a £750 per month rent split and also do not mind the pervasive smell of exposed and untreated wood. Do you like safety fire doors and undisguised plug socket circuitry? How about all the lights being screwed into timber and angled down like a crime scene? What about if I said to you your garden is just a large grill inside a brick fort? What about then? It's modern! What about then? One thousand five hundred and thirty-five pounds, a month. Please? Please!
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